About Rick

Currently

Rick is a Pastor, Farmer, and Board Member of a Private Giving Foundation focusing on Global Evangelism.

My Story – The Good

I came to Christ during my senior year at San Diego State University. Like many, coming to Christ was a radical and life-changing experience, especially if I were to give you the colorful details of my private life. Not long after I found myself preaching and evangelizing to friends and strangers alike.  Most of my adult life has been spent serving as a missionary, pastor, and church planter. I’ve enjoyed preaching the gospel in a few countries, and have spoken at conferences and retreats. I’ve been married for thirty-one years, we have four wonderful sons, and one great Lab dog. 


The Boring

Born in the Caribbean on the tiny Island of Puerto Rico, the place of my birth sits on the shores of the Caribbean. I am the youngest of two and sort of four—let’s just say it’s complicated—and I loved my younger days roaming endlessly on the island. 

I attended Catholic schools in the LAX South Bay communities. I’m a terrible surfer but love the ocean, I’m more of a ball sport kinda guy. As a kid, I easily took to any ball field I could find. Dad could throw any pitch and some of my favorite memories are of my gorgeous mother, all dressed up in her Sunday best, making a family lunch and driving onto LAX’s tarmac so the boys could have lunch with their dad. In the hangar, under the wing of an old DC 10, I loved playing catch with dad and the rest of the airport staff.

I wasn’t an easy kid to raise in some respects—-seriously strong-willed as a child, a voracious reader, an argumentative talker, and highly energetic, which usually meant mischief was not far away.

Adventure constantly held my imagination, my thoughts were endless in that regard. After seeing 70’s icon Evel Knievel on TV, I built my parachute and jumped off the roof of the garage. I landed just fine.  Another time I knocked myself out cold trying to jump over a series of metal trash cans, let’s just say I didn’t make it

The old Hollywood Park Racetrack and Fabulous Forum were just down the street from my house for a few years. When I felt brave, I took my speedy Schwinn bike with handlebar streamers, and pumped away as I crossed Century Blvd. I pressed hard into my Chuck Taylor’s and loved biking through Hollywood Park, the place was amazing, it was another world, green, and gorgeous, and the workers were awesome. I enjoyed chatting them up and they were nice enough to let me cruise around on my mighty gold Schwinn bike. It was a kid’s dream.

At the end of a long private road came the entrance to the Forum, where suddenly I found myself at the player’s entrance. Gracefully walking towards me was Wilt Chamberlain, he gave me 5. I have never seen anyone bleed cool like that man. He gently messed up my hair and chuckled as he walked inside. For the first time in my life, I was speechless. Next up among the parade of walking trees was the NBA logo himself, Hall of Famer Jerry West. Mr. West asked him my name, and I couldn’t say anything.

. 

High school years were spent making great friends, playing sports, and studying as little as possible. For the most part, I still swear by those priorities to this day. 

Afterward, I attended El Camino Junior College, one of the larger schools of its kind in the country. The sports teams were incredible, the school was a magnet for elite talent all across L.A.  I enjoyed playing football for them. It was seriously fun. 

As positive as those things were, deep inside though, trouble was brewing. I was getting better and better at covering sinful habits and self-destructive tendencies. 


Jesus Tapped Me Out

Toward the end of college, my folk’s marriage fell apart, and most lofty goals were unrealized. As a walk-on at SDSU, I was soon walked off for having a bad attitude. Going from bad to worse, my grades tanked, and I ruined the one relationship I cared about. The death of a fraternity brother broke what was left of my moral compass. I started binging, in a way almost nobody knew, but Jesus knew, and He was coming after me.

I spent the better part of the next year trying to find out what life was all about. I sought various religious leaders and a few academic philosophers and sat through classes and seminars. Weirdly, I was thinking about the question of death, and acting like I wanted an early exit. Eventually, I became unsatisfied with the answers I found, most of them didn’t make sense and few a more were flat-out bogus.

About this time, God sent a campus missionary into my fraternity house, who said to me, “Jesus Christ speaks most accurately about eternal life.”  I found the thought intriguing and welcomed the chance to talk further.  

To this day I’m not sure how I got there, but the week after Christmas I attended a Christian leadership conference for college students. I was a duck out of water for sure. I ended up hitching a ride with a few good-hearted Christians I had never met before. They were church brats, I was not, and they died a thousand deaths when I asked to play my Rick James cassette tunes up to the conference. I have no idea who they are to this day, but treasure in heaven to them, I pushed hard on all their social boundaries and they loved me anyway. 

At the conference I was blown away, thousands attended and I found myself greatly enjoying the quality of conversations and relationships I was engaging in, and for the first time, I found a group serious about answering the question, what happens when you die, and what does that all mean. 

One day in the middle of the conference I was asked to tag-a-long with Kristy Kercheval and go out into the community and share Christ. Just for reference, I didn’t know Christ. Being ever forceful and rude I took the 4 Laws booklet that I had never read away from Kristy and said I would show her how to do it. Kristy had no idea what was coming. Knocking on the door of a downtown San Francisco apartment, a polite Asian woman invited us in and wanted to hear the gospel. I began to read the booklet out loud to this woman, and it was the first time for the two of us, I still sometimes think this might be the best approach. 

The 4 Laws booklet ends with a question, which circle best represents your life, the Christ-directed life or the self-directed life? The woman mentioned “the self-directed life”, and much to my surprise I agreed with her and said out loud, “ya me too, let’s read on.” Kristy Kercheval has a great sense of humor, she and her husband are friends to this day, and she couldn’t stop laughing. 

My real turn came a few days later when Dr. Bill Bright asked everyone to give their life to Jesus. In a room full of people giving their lives to Jesus I strangely became angry and felt manipulated. But in a way difficult to describe, God spoke to heart, and when thousands had left, I stayed behind and got down on my knees at the very spot Dr. Bright was preaching from. God deeply convicted me of hypocrisy, so not knowing what to say to God, I prayed the following prayer. “Lord,” I said for the first time, “I am a hypocrite, and I will always be one unless you change me. If you can change me, I will go wherever you want me to go, do whatever you want me to do, and say whatever you want me to say, but I am such a hypocrite I can’t keep the word of my prayer, only if you completely change me.” 

And a moment later, I was never the same.